I'll try to keep this post some what relevant to real estate, but also just wanted to say that we had a great vacation. Thanks to everyone who reached out before hand to offer tips and advice. Below are links to the pictures I promised to post. Being armed with so much knowledge definitely helped us spend more time enjoying our trip and less time sweating the details.
We spent a couple of days in Bangkok and a week in Phuket. The area is booming! There was new construction everywhere. So of course on guided tours when everyone was asking about elephants and restaurant recommendations, I was the geek asking how one goes about buying real estate as a foreigner.
The simplest answer: marry a Thai, put everything in their name and let them complete the transaction.
The more practical answer: You need to start a corporation to buy a home where you own 49% of the company and at least 5 Thais own the remaining 51%. Once the sale goes through, the you can "buy out" the Thai shareholders. There isn't a formula to doing this. Typically you just give each of the shareholders around 500 baht (about $17 USD) and everyone goes on their own way. Apparently there are people where this is all the do, they just become shareholders over and over. And if the government were to ever ask about your specific deal, the shareholders wouldn't even know what to tell them because they do so many of these arrangements and rarely meet the owners.
So my next question, what if you buy a condo, because then you aren't really buying land but rather air space. Apparently it is a lot easier to own air than it is to own land. The developer of the project who is actually buying the land still needs to apply the rules above. But anyone can buy a condo. However, the deal breaker here is that a certain percentage of all condo developments must be Thai owned (51% I believe). So it is very important to consult with the managing broker to know how many units have been sold to foreigners before moving forward with a deal.
It was interesting to hear how the Thais' attitude is to really remain in control of their land. Especially when you compare this to some areas of the US where deals by foreigners are what is keeping the real estate market alive, since the dollar is so weak right now. Would be an interesting debate to talk about which philosophy is better for the country because there are pros and cons to both approaches.
There was a big real estate conference going on while I was there. I thought about popping in so that I could write the trip off as a business expense, but at the end of the day, the pool sounded like a much better way to pass time. I am sure I'll be regretting this choice next April 15th.
Overall, it was a wonderful trip. I tried to make comments as to what on the pictures are on my facebook account at the links below. Also, we spent so much time researching what to do on TripAdvisor, that I am going to be sure to return the favor by posting reviews myself. Sort of like that 'take a penny, give a penny' dish at gas stations. Most of the tours we took were highly recommended on TripAdvisor. Of course when we got there we had to grill the tour owners about it. Ironically many of them said their business was what it was today because of the site, but they had never even heard of it until a few months ago. And because of the site, they are having to learn how to get better at email. What a testament to the power of social networking. But I'll save that soapbox for another day.
Laagorn Ka for now!
Picture with comments on Facebook. You need to be logged into your Facebook account to see:
If you don't have a Facebook account, I uploaded all 412 pictures (warning there are a lot) to Shutterfly here.